1. "Paranoid Android" - Radiohead
Coming off the success of their 1995 album The Bends, Radiohead realized that they had a large task ahead of them to follow it up. All expectations were blown into the stratosphere when OK Computer was released in 1997, an album that is still regarded as one of the best of all times. The first single was the etheral almost dream like "Paranoid Android" which comes off as a narrative to a drug trip gone bad. Thom Yorke actually got the idea after a night out in some of London's more obscure nightclubs. The characters and conversations were similar yet different, so the song comes together like pieces of other songs.
2. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" - The Beatles
Partly inspired by the US' complicated fascination with firearms and Lennon's sexual passion for Yoko Ono "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is often cited by the members of the Beatles as one of their favourites. Because of the song's changing pace, style and time signatures it took almost 15 hours and over 100 takes to put the song to tape.
3. "Nautical Disaster" - The Tragically Hip
When writing songs for the 1994 album Day For Night Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie asked his grandfather about his time in the Second World War and any stories he may have heard from the time. He was recanted with the story about the doomed German battleship Bismarck. The story haunted Downie and he intentionally recorded the vocals slightly lower and made the lyrics slightly vague in an effort to neither glorify or diminish the horrors of war.
4. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
Often mentioned in conversations about the greatest songs of all time "Bohemian Rhapsody" is by far the most popular song on this list. Queen have been voted by Britons as the best band to ever come out of the UK. At the time of it's recording it was too long to be considered a hit single as radio stations wouldn't play it. The song was played when one of Freddie Mercury's friends got in on air on Capital Radio and became an international sensation.
5. "Unsent" - Alanis Morissette
It seems when an artist attempts to follow up a colossal smash of an album, the succeeding record has experimental songs; They seem to steer away from the formulaic. While it might not bring them hit singles and appearances in movies, it's often a critically acclaimed effort. Alanis' Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie was the follow-up to an obscure CD called Jagged Little Pill. While it didn't earn the accolades that her previous album did,, Junkie spawned some of my favourite Alanis Morissette songs. "Unsent" is a series of letters written to past boyfriends. The names are actually names of Alanis' past flames and she did get permission from each of them before releasing the song. It's actually a very therapeutic technique. Try it out.
6. "Sometime Around Midnight" - The Airborne Toxic Event
The Airborne Toxic Event was originally conceived as a novel by writer Mike Jollet. He decided his words could work with music behind them and in a song format so he assembled a group of musicians and released the album in 2008. "Sometime Around Midnight" centers around bumping into an ex-girlfriend while trying to have a relaxing night out.
7. "Triumph" - The Wu-Tang Clan
Released at the peak of their popularity "Triumph" came off the Wu-Tang Clan's album Forever. Clocking in at over six minutes and featuring all nine members of the group and guest rapper Cappadonna, it was different than anything being played on Hip Hop radio at the time.
8. "Astronomy" - Blue Oyster Cult
Believe it or not Blue Oyster Cult have other songs besides "Don't Fear The Reaper", just this one wasn't made famous by an admittedly hilarious SNL sketch. The song features lyrics taken from a poem called "The Soft Doctrines Of Immaginos" written by the band's producer Sandy Pearlman. The entire album this song is off of (Imaginos) is based on similar themes and "Astronomy" uses many references to celestial bodies and constellations as imagery. Wonderful song which would later be covered by Metallica in 1998.
Love or hate Jim Morrison or The Doors, this song undeniably grew a life of it's own and is one the most abnormal songs ever released by a popular American rock band. Sure some of the lines are repeated, but it's the changing intensity of the words that is actually what hooks you in with this song. Not a catchy verse or chorus. This song mutated in Doors live sets to an opus well over 12 minutes and often featured Morrison changing the lyrics on the spot into something more shocking or unsettling and improvising the spoken part near the middle of the song. To this day it is one of The Doors' most well known songs yet it rarely (if ever) is played on popular radio.
10. "Subterranean Homesick Blues" - Bob Dylan
Perhaps Dylan's most iconic song is "Subterranean Homesick Blues". Yep it's catchy, yep it's memorable but it's just one long stream of consciousness. No choruses or even much of a let up of any kind. The video has become a piece of Americana as well being parodied or references by artists like Weird Al, INXS and Les Claypool.
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